Folding Types for Printing: A Beginners Guide


There are literally dozens of variations of folding types, some simple and others as complicated as origami. Shown here is a sampler of different folding types. Although there are too many variables to provide a reliable cost comparison, it can generally be assumed that the more difficult the fold, the longer the production time and greater the cost. For a detailed explanation of all folding types and to see how the folds are achieved, we recommend the book, FOLD: The Professional’s Guide to Folding, available from

Folding Type: Basic

The Basic folding family (single fold, half-fold, tri-fold, four pagers) consists of the easiest and most commonly folding types, offered by virtually any printer or bindery. The sample shown here can aslo be called a tent fold.

Folding Type: Accordion

Accordion folds get their name because each fold is in the opposite direction of the previous one, creating a zig-zag or pleated effect. This example uses successively narrower panels giving it a stepped appearance.

Folding Types: Accordion 2

Folding Types: Score

No score, rotary score and letterpress. For the highest quality fold, scoring is recommended.

Folding Types: Parallel

The Parallel fold is characterized by panels that run parallel to each other. This particular fold opens downward, rather than out to the side, which is more typical.

Folding Types: Roll

The Roll fold (also called barrel fold) consists of four or more panels that roll in on each other. The roll-in panels must be made incrementally smaller to tuck neatly into their respective panels.

 Folding Types: Roll Fold  

Folding Styles: Poster Fold

The poster style features combination folds that open out into a large format. The first fold serves as the base fold and the final fold gives it its finished format. Here, a letter fold forms the base and an accordion fold gives it its finished look.

Folding Types: Poster 2 

Folding Types: Gate Fold

Gate folds are generally symmetrical, with two or more panels folding in towards the center from opposite sides. This example opens out vertically.

Folding Types: Gate Fold 2

Folding Styles: Exotic

The exotic family consists of challenging folds, including propriety configurations, that may require hand folding or the services of a special bindery that can automate the process. A twist fold is shown here.

  Folding Styles: Exotic Folding Styles: Exotic 3  

Folding Styles: Illustration

A fold can be a way to illustrate an idea. It can serve as a story telling device that gives designers the ability to control the “reveal”, letting readers take in the first level of information before lifting the fold to move deeper into the story.

 Folding Types: Exotic Compilation Folding Styles: Compilation


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